The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Orissa House heat on officer

Bhubaneswar, March 30: Orissa Speaker Sarat Kar has directed the government to suspend senior IAS officer Hrushikesh Panda, who has been accused of misbehaving with a minister and a senior MLA.

This ruling followed a marathon discussion in the House last night, spanning over nine hours, which witnessed several adjournments and noisy scenes.

The Speaker asked the government to suspend Panda, the chairman-cum-managing director of the Industrial Development Corporation Ltd (Idcol), till a House committee submits its inquiry report.

Kar held discussions with chief minister Naveen Patnaik, heard the members out and said the committee would visit Barbil, where the incident allegedly occurred. Pending the inquiry, the government would have to suspend the officer, he ruled.

Panda, who has a reputation of being a no-nonsense officer among Orissa’s bureaucrats, is alleged to have misbehaved with minister of state for Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe welfare Balabhadra Majhi and Champua MLA Saharai Oram in the guesthouse of Kalinga Iron Works at Barbil on March 15. The Speaker’s direction came after a voice vote.

Raising the issue during zero hour yesterday, Oram alleged that Panda had abused him and Majhi. He also said Panda abused the employees of the guesthouse for allowing the minister’s vehicle to be parked in the portico. He went out of the guesthouse in a huff and ordered the disconnection of water and power supply, Oram alleged.

The Speaker requested Patnaik to reconsider his decision to probe the incident by the development commissioner, saying Panda might influence the inquiry. Kar added that the official should either be shifted or suspended. There was a deadlock for several hours as the government did not take a decision according to the Speaker’s direction.

The House had to be adjourned 14 times to resolve the issue. When the government did not announce any decision, the Speaker put to voice vote his advice to suspend the official, which met with an overwhelming yes. No senior minister in the House came to the rescue of the government.

BJP members like Balgopal Mishra and others also demanded the suspension of the IAS officer. Many of them, such as Umesh Swain, described the government as “undemocratic” and “bureaucrat-centred”.

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